Danny Ainge clarified his comments about Gordon Hayward’s ‘setback’

“You know what? Sometimes I talk too much."

Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward came out to greet the Celtics crowd before the start of a game last December against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. –Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Danny Ainge says that Gordon Hayward’s purported “setback” wasn’t really a “setback” after all.

In an interview Sunday with the Boston Herald, the Celtics president of basketball operations said he recently misspoke when providing an update of Hayward’s rehabilitation on a local radio station.

“He’s had one setback — for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago,” Ainge said, when asked about the injured Celtics forward’s recovery during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub last week. “We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought.”

The comments set off a wave of headlines across basketball media, but Ainge now says his use of the term “setback” may have been too strong and explained what actually happened


“You know what? Sometimes I talk too much,” he told the Herald. “’Setback’ wasn’t the right word, so let me rephrase that because it’s not exactly true to say it — or say it that way. What happened is he went on the AlterG the first day and he felt some soreness. It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was.”

Ainge said the team waited a few more weeks before they started Hayward again on the AlterG — an anti-gravity treadmill that allows athletes to run without putting their full body weight on their legs — and that since then “it’s been great.” Hayward wrote on his personal blog in late January about making progress rehabbing on the treadmill.

“It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that,” Ainge told the Herald, adding that his original remark got “blown out of proportion.”

“It’s my fault,” he said. “I’m not blaming anybody. ‘Setback’ was probably too strong of a word.”

Ainge said that Hayward’s recovery continues to progress on track, but he doesn’t anticipate the 27-year-old returning to the floor this season, noting that his on-court work has still been very limited.


Hayward suffered a gruesome left leg injury in the Celtics’ season-opener last October. Despite persistent speculation, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has categorically ruled out his return this season. Ainge has said he doesn’t even think Hayward himself believes a comeback this year is possible.

“Gordon can say whatever he wants, but we are not planning on him playing this year.” he told the Herald. “I don’t see that happening; that’s why I keep saying that.”


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